Saturday, September 23, 2017

Golfito marinas research

So I took a a surf trip to southern Costa Rica this month, was supposed to hang out with a good friend I hadn't seen in quite a while and hoped for good weather and surf.  I got none of the three...

- Hurricane Irma required my buddy to head home to Florida
- Rainy season started in earnest
- Surf forecast turned to crud after just 2 days there

So lemons into lemonade?

I booked a return trip home 2 weeks early but took an extra day to go and visit Golfito, check out the town, the stores, the bay for anchoring, and the marinas.  Here's what I gathered:

Golfito is a major check in or out port, with cutoms, immigration and a port captain.  Have at least 5 copies of boat docs, insurance, passport etc. when you go to check in or pay about $300-400 to have an agent assist you.  Checking out ran about $25-30.

Golfito Bay hosts a duty free shopping zone in the very north end of town frequented by the people of Costa Rica where you can find great deals on all sorts of things but as I walked the area what stood out most was all the appliances.

Fuel dock was easily accessible and nearest Golfito Marina in the north end of the bay, adjacent to the commercial shipping dock.

Exchange rate for USD and cost of diesel

Anchoring is fantastic.  Incredibly well protected from winds of all directions with good holding, mud mixed with stones.  Room for hundreds of boats so not too worried about crowding.  The entrance is well defined and marked by lit markers and deep enough for tankers and cargo ships to enter.

The town has everything that you might need, or ability to get from a larger town within a few days.  While I walked the streets I saw a small chandlery, a Yamaha (outboard and generator) shop and a Suzuki outboard store.  Restaurants and hotels and markets were readily available as well.

There were 3 marinas in Golfito that I visited.  On the map below is 1) Golfito Marina, 2) Banana Bay Marina, and 3) FishHook Marina.  I visited each place for about two hours, I walked the docks and spoke to residents and the dock masters at each location.  One thing I found in common with all them was that the depth was more than sufficient, even at low tides as the area has tides that change +/- 12-13'.

Here's the details I collected on each:

Golfito Marina

Golfito Marina is very new, opened earlier in 2017.  They have grand plans for a full on 'village' with plenty of land to expand with houses, condos, and other buildings and amenities.  If you visit their website you'll see what I'm talking about.  On my visit in September 2017 they only had the docks and security building built.  The docks were new and very sturdy with about 20 double slips (so about 40 in total) with plenty of room for the larger sized vessels, 100'+.  They were building quite the extensive building to include bars, restaurants, shops, offices and bathrooms / showers.  I was told it was due to be opened in 1-2 months.  Slip rates can be found on their website.  Here's a few pictures:

Golfito Marina docks on a rainy day

Golfito Marina future bar and restaurants, etc.

Under construction

Golfito Marina in the distance to the left.  On the right is commercial dock for the tankers and cargo ships

Banana Bay Marina

Banana Bay has been around here for a long time but looks they have spent a lot of money to upgrade everything from the restaurant to the docks.  In fact, while I was there I met with the owner and they are adding more docks to get to close to 30 slips (from the current 20).  The restaurant and bar were great, food was excellent and the airy openness of the sitting areas made for a fun place to sit and watch the world go around.  Wifi worked well for me checking emails and ESPN for scores.  They had 5 rooms which ran $65-100 / night depending on season and how many people.  Potable water and 110/220v modern connections.  Here's a few pictures:

Banana Bay from the street

Banana Bay hotel and restaurant

Banana Bay slips

Banana Bay docks

Banana Bay breakfast menu

Banana Bay menu

Banana Bay rooms
Banana Bay slip rates

FishHook Marina

Looks like this place has spent some money recently as the bar, restaurant, and docks were all very fresh and clean.  Wifi worked well for me checking emails and ESPN for scores.  The docks were sturdy with potable water and 110/220v power connections.  They offered 5 rooms for rates of $65-100 per night depending on season and number of people.  Slip rates are in a photo below

FishHook Marina from the street

FishHook docks

FishHook bar view

FishHook bar

FishHook entrance and game room

FishHook menu

FishHook breakfast menu

FishHook happy hour

FishHook office

FishHook rooms

FishHook slip rates

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hooray for dogs!!!

OK so here's a follow up blog post to a previous Facebook post that became a bit more circulated than I would've suspected and started a small chain of sometimes irrational responses.  Yes, we were surprised by how a lot of places in Cabo specifically, wouldn't let us sit there and have a beer because we had our dog with us. And no, I'm not some crazy dog owner who thinks that dogs need to be on every flight, in every store, and have equal rights to people, but in Cabo we were stopping at restaurants with chairs in the sand on the beach (with stray dogs running here and there) which wouldn't allow us to sit and buy a drink.  They're making enough money that they can turn us away, good for them, I am a capitalist after all.  I wrote that post because it was a stark difference from what we had experienced in the past at those same locations, I was just disappointed it had changed.

But to show that not all's lost for pet owners in the Mexico I've grown to love for almost three decades, we've been having an amazing time in Marina Riviera Nayarit and the town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  Couldn't be more pet friendly!

Then there's this first week of September where Dad has taken time to come visit us. He's staying in his timeshare so we decided to get a room at the pet friendly Westin Puerto Vallarta next door.  What a pleasant surprise this place has been!!

While advertised as pet friendly, I couldn't have been more pleased than when I asked the pool attendant "are we able to sit by the pool with our dog?".  For the record we have never really tried asking this, because one - we don't' stay at many hotels, and because two - frankly, we just don't expect it to be allowed.  Well.... His answer stunned me. "sir, we are very pet friendly, your dog may go anywhere she likes on a leash as long as it's not in the pool".

Awesome!! Kudos to the Westin Puerto Vallarta!